Such as Miss Teen South Carolina

After Miss Teen South Carolina's famous, painful attempt to explain the world, Mo Rocca started a contest to explain what she said.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Welcome back to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We're always available on FM, AM satellite, iTunes and, of course, online at npr.org/bryantpark. I'm Alison Stewart. Happy New Year to you.

Today's show is full of staff picks, including that one coming up. Our Rachel - let me start this again - Rachel Martin, our newscaster, thinks he's dreamy and Dan, our producer, loves his music. That's Ben Harper. They were both very happy when he stops by our studio to give us some words of encouragement and to play something from his latest release. That is coming up shortly.

But first, if there were a Miss Teen Bryant Park pageant, and God willing someday there will be, no doubt Miss Teen South Carolina would be a model or example of well, something, such as…

(Soundbite of archived speech)

Unidentified Woman: Recent polls have shown a fifth Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?

Ms. CAITLIN UPTON (Miss Teen South Carolina): I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so, because some - people out there, in our nation, don't have maps and I believe that our education, like such as South Africa -and the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should - our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we would be able to build up our future for…

Unidentified Man: Thank you very much, South Carolina.

STEWART: Oh, thanks heaven for that, Bell. Well, the rest of us might have been confused by her answer. TV personality and NPR contributor Mo Rocca found inspiration. He started a contest on his blog to see if anyone could actually rearrange those words to make sense of what she said. And let it not be said that the BPP was not up to the challenge.

Luke Burbank and I assembled our crack group of producers, you know them by name - M.J., Dan - to deconstruct, then reconstruct the ramblings of Miss Teen South Carolina's interesting take on cartography and foreign policy. Let's listen.

MO ROCCA: I realized when listening to Miss South Carolina that she had all the words. She just was running on, I think, faulty software. Her references to South Africa I thought were particularly strange and outdated. And so I think she was running on pageant '95 software.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MO ROCCA: So I asked readers to come to my Web site and…

MATT MARTINEZ, host:

He needs to upgrade to Cougar. That would be the OS systems for ageing pageant queens.

MO ROCCA: Oh, and asking them to unscramble the words and make sense of it. And I had over 750 submissions. And actually we just went online now with the six finalists. I couldn't narrow it to five, so there'll be a winner and five runners up. And I tried to select sort of different attitudes from the South Carolina because people really came up with a creative interpretations for what she was trying to say using only the words that she said.

STEWART: Now, what seems to be the biggest obstacle, because I'm assuming you try this yourself, would that there will be any verbs? Is it the pauses? Is it the such as?

MO ROCCA: My readers look for opportunity, look for potential and her lack of any punctuation. There was nothing - she just run all the words together, so you can really use punctuation to, you know, create some fascinating combinations. One of the biggest struggles was the two uhs(ph). She just said twice. Some people argue that she said it three or four times. But I only heard it twice really clearly ah, but some people turned that into an aha, into an affirmation or uh-uh, a no, no. They ran them together, which is what they need.

And other people took the U.S. and gave them a lot of opportunity to play with punctuation and chuck the periods out of it and turns U.S. into us. So there was a lot of creativity going on.

BURBANK: Hey, Mo, what's your Web site? Morocca180.com…

MO ROCCA: It's Morocca180.com and it's just the numbers 180, Morocca180.com. The polls have just opened. And right now, our anti-globalization Miss South Carolina is in the lead.

STEWART: Oh, really? Could you read that one to us? The one that's on lead.

MO ROCCA: This is from Cal(ph). He portrays a frantic Miss South Carolina terrified by the globalization and presumably the rise of China.

Iraq, the U.S., Africa, South Africa, they're everywhere in our maps. I personally don't have a future. For our nation to build up our education like the Asian countries, people should help, because I be unable to do so and like, I believe that we should help our Americans over there in Iraq, believe that such education will help out here in the U.S. or the South as in such. And so should some believe the U.S. has that able? It feels part of (unintelligible).

BURBANK: That was the end?

STEWART: Wow.

BURBANK: Mo, that was - wait, that was amazing. So those are actually all the words that she used. Wait, could you - could use words more than once?

Mr. ROCCA: No. I only selected those who used every word the - same number like believe, she used three times. She had to use it three times - ah was twice. This person did something really interesting when she said, I don't believe I have a future. They used the a as an, you know, as the article a.

BURBANK: Hmm.

Mr. ROCCA: And which I thought was really great because it also fit contextually that she - this is a Ms. South Carolina who is not really competent with the English language.

STEWART: Right. That's why she would have spelled it probably.

Mr. ROCCA: Exactly. Now, here's what's really interesting. This is a Dobbs scene approach, and I like this - as in Lou Dobbs.. She's a real Nativist her. But she begins in a very human way. She's - she admits to being confused by the question, but then she gets right on track and she becomes a really hot Lou Dobbs. Here we go.

Maps? I believe that as the Americans are unable to do our education here, the able and - or Asian countries will be our future. So over for the U.S.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROCCA: Some people out there don't like our nation. I personally believe that's so because they believe the U.S. should have to help everywhere. South Africa and such should help in South Africa. And Iraq and such should help in Iraq. And we, as in the U.S., should build up our education. I like that.

BURBANK: Wow.

STEWART: Wow.

BURBANK: That is amazing. That would have - she would have gotten first place.

Mr. ROCCA: I thought - and what she's done is she's taken this strain of protectionist Nativist politics. And she has a really great face and perfect teeth on it.

BURBANK: Well, we decided to try to do our radio equivalent of what you're working on.

STEWART: We basically took your idea, Mo.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: We just want to be straight up about that.

BURBANK: With, I think, some help from Robert Smith, NPR correspondent extraordinaire, who, I think, may be took tipped us off. I just want to make sure we're giving credit where credit is due.

STEWART: All right.

Mr. ROCCA: Sure, why not? Yeah.

BURBANK: So we had a little bit of a producer challenge, and we had our producers - we gave them…

STEWART: Who's going first?

BURBANK: …a fixed amount of time to - we're going to do Wyn first.

STEWART: Okay, that's fine.

BURBANK: We gave everybody 30 minutes…

Mr. ROCCA: Right.

BURBANK: …to go ahead and cut up the audio of Ms. South Carolina, and then re - you know - what's the word I'm looking for, Alison?

STEWART: Re-jigger it all.

BURBANK: Re-jigger it and make something - maybe not as poetic as what you had. But here is the audio - but first, we've got Win Rosenfeld who's a video…

STEWART: …producer.

BURBANK: …producer. But he is, you know, dabbling in audio here.

WIN ROSENFELD: You know.

BURBANK: Well said.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROSENFELD: Whatever.

BURBANK: What are you, Ms. South Carolina?

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROSENFELD: Such as.

STEWART: Let's take a listen to Wyns.

(Soundbite of recorded audio montage)

Ms. UPTON: I personally believe that the U.S. should - believe Iraq and Asian countries such as - Africa and South everywhere for people and our future.

BURBANK: That sounds like the CD was skipping.

STEWART: It did. What was your biggest challenge there, Wyn?

ROSENFELD: Well, I think I was just trying to sort of convey what I think she really meant, which was that she feels like countries like Africa and the South everywhere should really be left to the people of the future.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROCCA: Are you saying that they should be less - or is this sort of like an anti-nation building thing?

ROSENFELD: I think so, yeah. I think that maybe she's saying that we all sort of live in South everywhere.

STEWART: I want you - after the show, you're taking me to a map and showing me South everywhere, Wyn.

ROSENFELD: Where isn't South everywhere, Alison?

BURBANK: Okay.

STEWART: Who is up next?

BURBANK: We're going to go to M.J. Davis.

M.J. DAVIS: That's going to be me.

BURBANK: M.J. Davis who's…

M.J. DAVIS: This is about to be mortifying and lame.

STEWART: How long did you take to do this, M.J.?

DAVIS: I took 30 minutes.

STEWART: Of your - and knowing how much you had to do in the past 24 hours…

DAVIS: It was rough.

STEWART: That's a huge chunk of your time.

DAVIS: And I was so disappointed in the final product. There's nothing gratifying about this experience.

Mr. ROCCA: No disclaimers. That's not what pageant contestants do.

BURBANK: Such as.

DAVIS: I believe that my video remix is the best remix ever made.

ROSENFELD: M.J. - this is the - M.J. tries to upfront like she wasn't in pageant and growing up in North Carolina.

DAVIS: So was not. I swear.

STEWART: Let's take a listen to M.J.'s.

(Soundbite of recorded audio montage)

Ms. UPTON: I personally believe that Americans are unable to do so because we don't believe and that - personally, I believe - and that - I believe that people in the Asian countries should help educate U.S. and (unintelligible).

Mr. ROCCA: That was kind of a dance remix. See, I thought she would (unintelligible) say, I believe, I believe in a thing called love.

DAVIS: A kind of a hip-hop vibe.

ROSENFELD: What's funny is the music because there is music underneath it. It's so hard to cut it together. And at certain points, it sounds like the record is coming - like the needles coming off of the record at about the same time when the wheels are coming off of her pageant.

DAVIS: Right.

STEWART: No, you didn't follow Mo's rules because there was liberal use of the word maps.

DAVIS: We would never have cut it under Mo's rules. But we said like anything goes. This was really a dirty play.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DAVIS: Like, the producers of THE BPP.

STEWART: All right, final entry. Dan Pashman.

DAN PASHMAN: Right. And I should add that there are certain advantages to Mo's rules because you can move punctuation as he explained to really change the meaning whereas you actually hear the way the words are pronounced, it's harder to alter.

BURBANK: All right. All right. Our poor craftsman blames this medium.

PASHMAN: Well, I'm proud to say that I did mine in 19 minutes.

STEWART: Nineteen?

BURBANK: Wow. Okay, you get points for…

PASHMAN: All right.

BURBANK: Now, put your headphones on, producer extraordinaire.

PASHMAN: Hopefully - all right.

BURBANK: In case Mo wants to talk to you or something.

STEWART: Let's take a listen to Dan's.

(Soundbite of audio montage)

Ms. UPTON: I personally believe Americans should help South Africa. And should help Iraq and the Asian countries because some people out there don't have maps. And I believe the U.S. should help people such as South Africa and Iraq so we will be able to build up our future for our children.

PASHMAN: Thank you very much.

BURBANK: Wow.

STEWART: Wow. That's what she actually might have been able to say.

Mr. ROCCA: That one is great.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PASHMAN: That was totally - no offense, guys.

Mr. ROCCA: It's so bold with - considering what's going on in Iraq and everything, here she is saying I don't care - globalization is the future. And we just got to get out there, an American education. And our place in the world depends on helping others right now. She's undaunted. I mean, she could work for the Bush White House.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: It's entirely possible.

BURBANK: Wow, wow, wow.

STEWART: Given some of the president's speeches. We'll never know.

BURBANK: You know, one of the things that we wanted to do - which I guess we probably didn't actually get around too because you guys were too busy piecing together every bit of the show.

Well, I watched "To Catch a Predator" online. We'll talk about that later. Plus, we were going to have all the leave-ins, all the things that got left out. And that would have been a kind of, you know, an interesting little study, too. I mean, the kind of the detritus, the audio detritus of what - because Dan, did you leave a lot out of yours - because yours made a way more sense than the other ones.

PASHMAN: Well, thank you. A fair amount. There is probably maybe 10 or 15 seconds worth of audio. I could have go back and see if I can re-piece that together.

BURBANK: No, no. It's good.

PASHMAN: And, Mo, if you want us to send you a copy of that audio feel free, you can throw up in your Web site.

Mr. ROCCA: I would love that. And I encourage everyone please vote. You have the right to come to Morocca180.com and vote for your favorite unscrambling Ms. South Carolina's Answer - and take advantage of it. It's just a click away.

STEWART: Mo Rocca, thank you so much for joining us and inspiring us as well.

Mr. ROCCA: What's that?

STEWART: And inspiring us as well.

Mr. ROCCA: Of course. Can I give you my - just one more.

STEWART: Sure.

Mr. ROCCA: Okay, this is from - let me show you - which ones should I do. Here is in honor of what Dan just played for us. Here is from Noel Heitemann. He is our number two finalist right here. It presents an exuberantly and apologetically nation-building Ms. South Carolina.

The Americans are so the future. I'd like our nation in that because of the build up education here, over there and everywhere. The U.S. should help out. Some people don't believe in countries such as South Africa and of Iraq. They should believe. Personally, I do. And the U.S. should believe should help. Our maps for South Africa and Iraq will be unable or able to help Asian education to have that. And so, I like the U.S.

BURBANK: Oh, man. That was - that sounded like - were there that many words in the original one?

Mr. ROCCA: Yeah.

STEWART: Mo Rocca joining us.

And for the record, where is Ms. Teen South Carolina? Where is she right now on January 1st, 2008? Well, I'm not really sure. But I do know she signed with the Trump Agency a few weeks after that whole kafuffle, and intends to spend part of 2008, modeling in Spain, Italy and Australia. She said, quote, "It might not be great money, but the pictures will be great and I can build my portfolio," end quote. She said college is a plan B. She graduated in May from Lexington High School, allegedly, with a 3.7 grade point average.

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